14 November 1997

Advisers split over best late sown wheat variety

By Andrew Blake

WHICH wheat best suits the late sowing slot? Advisers are at loggerheads over the top performer.

Hussar, top yielder in four years of NIABs late-sown trials and a sound performer in the same position at Morley Research Centre doesnt get a look in at the Arable Research Centres. "We have different views," says ARC director, Mike Carver.

Three years of trials at four sites have allowed ARC to weed out varieties unsuited to the relatively small market for drilling late, he says. "Hussar has just not performed consistently in our trials."

Dr Carver also takes issue with the view that bread-making varieties should come to the fore as drilling is delayed. Some feed types with reasonable quality, such as Charger, which outyielded Riband and Soissons by about 10% in ARC late sown trials last year, could be just as profitable. Reaper, only 0.5% behind Charger, should also be a good bet, he suggests.

Charger, noticeably quicker to develop than most other varieties, came joint top in Morley Research Centres November sown trial last year, reports senior agronomist Doug Stevens. Rated 109 with Beaufort, it outperformed Reaper on 106 and Hussar on 102. "But over the years Hussar has had a good track record because of its tillering. Its main disadvantage, low straw strength, is also less of a problem when sown late."

The same comment applies to Charger, whose main attraction is a potential premium of £5-£6/t provided it does not sprout, he adds.

The variety yielded well first time last year in NIABs HGCA-funded late sown trials, but not quite as well as Hussar, notes cereals specialist Richard Fenwick.

The relative yield ratings were 104 and 105, respectively. Cash limitations mean the work, begun in the late 1980s to explore the potential of autumn sown spring varieties, is limited to bread-making types and the current Recommended List controls.

"We have not looked at Reaper in these trials. But you could surmise that it might behave in the same way as Hussar with its weak straw being overcome by late sowing."

The trend to better quality varieties is reflected in demand for later sowing, according to Dalgetys national cereal seeds manager, David Neale. "We are looking at Charger, Hereward, Hussar and Reaper – in that order," he says.

On-farm experience

Western barometer grower Tony Symonds considers on-farm track record is the key to variety choice for later sowing. "I am not too worried which it is so long as it is in by the end of November."

First-time Rialto this year after sugar beet has been chosen more for its drought resistance on sandy land rather than specific late performance, he adds. &#42

Which winter wheat best suits late sowing? Advisers cant agree.

LATE SOWN WHEATS

&#8226 Hussar performance debate.

&#8226 Charger premium potential.

&#8226 Straw strength the key?